Fire in the Freezer

Serge J-f. Levy

2014 - 2015

For years, I developed my career as a photographer often feeling that my photographic frames were missing something to complete their meaning to me. It wasn’t until I started to experiment with the use of writing as adjunctive to my photographs that I felt my frames became complete. And as part of the exchange, my writing naturally gained a fullness when considered with the photographs.

For the most part, the photography and writing contained in “The Fire in the Freezer” are not created in consideration of each other. However, they are concurrently created and through an osmotic effect and willful intention, each shares a tone that ties them together. Both pieces capitalize on a braided narrative style which recreates how I experience memory: through choppy, sometimes illogical, and finite moments. The braided narrative also suggests often improbable connections that can be created between love and trauma or notions of masculinity and the desert landscape. Rarely does my writing describe a photograph or a photograph illustrate my writing. However, in juxtaposition, the writing and photography collude to amplify the meaning and depth of the other.

A documentary process is at the foundation of my photographic inquiry. With a camera in hand at all times, I respond to stimuli that jostles my internal sense of normalcy. I suppose that is a very subjective term: “normalcy.” I have traveled the world as an assignment documentary photographer. I have photographed riots, celebrities, and the Westminster Dog Show at Madison Square Garden. And I grew up in New York City. I admit to having some pretty strong filters for what defines my notions of normalcy. Those filters paradoxically don’t work on the apparently small happenings of life or in the extra-terrestrial landscape of the Southwest. Mundane and cyclic occurrences of seasons, decay, human negligence, and interpersonal connection, are the impetus for my reactions and explorations in the photographs of “The Fire in the Freezer.”

My writing follows a similar documentary trajectory. However, instead of my camera and my current life, I use my memory as a space to visit and to extract and recount remarkable moments. In a process similar to a Freudian psychoanalysis, I write current and past events in my life into strophes and vignettes that contain personally salient and rich material. Much like my process of sequencing photographs, I then move the segments around to suggest possible connections. To the best of my ability and within the slippery parameters of how writers such as David Shields questions “reality,” I do my best to honor events as I remember them: a non-fiction account, let’s say.

Photography and writing are powerful and nuanced forms of communication. In tandem they have the potential to transcend the possibilities of each medium and become a distinct creative form.

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